By Matthew Bitz
It's high noon and the sun beats down on me mercilessly, making me sweat beneath my heavy flannel shirt. I reach down to the table in front of me and pick up my long barreled .45 and check my cylinder. Loading with the hammer down on an empty chamber. Good, I don't need any more trouble than I've already got: 18 men who want to string me up. Slowly, I holster my pistol and set the rifle by the window. I hope the other pistol is where my buddy left it. With deliberation, I step out through the swinging saloon doors and squint hard at this rowdy crew. There won't be any talking these boys out of a fight. ...
Welcome to the colorful world of Cowboy Action Shooting, a sport where for a few hours you can become anyone you like from the days of the Old West, whether it be a gunfighter, gambler, soldier, or dance hall girl, the only restriction is your imagination.
Cowboy Action Shooting is a safe and fun gunsport in which competitors adopt an alias and develop a character that they portray in period of costume and participate in scenarios in which they engage reactive target with six-shooters and old style rifles and shotguns. A shoot is held in several stages or scenarios that are designed to incorporate the world of the Old West with speed and accuracy, not necessarily in that order. The competitors are divided up into posses and move around the range together from stage to stage. Shooters are scored on the time it takes them to shoot through each stage. Misses or procedurals like not shouting, "I've got you now you low-down-good for nothing, lazy, yellow bellied varmint!" add seconds on to their times. At the end of the day, times are tallied and hats are tipped to those whose overall times were shortest. Shooters are divided into mens', womens', seniors', and juniors'. Awards are given to the top shooters in each category and to the best costumes or team events.
Now, I know what you're thinking: A lot of people with guns makes for a bad combination. Well, not here. This is one of the safest sports around. In fact, I'd be willing to bet that more people get hurt playing golf than at a cowboy action match. Everything is closely monitored by the range officers, who enforce the rules and regulations of the match. Anyone who violates the rules can be kicked out. All guns are unloaded unless they are being loaded for the next shooter in a stage.
I simply don't have the time to tell you all the details this week, and I want to clearly explain how this great sport works, so next week I'll walk you through a stage to better understand it all. So if your still interested, be sure to pick up the Havre Daily next week.